Storms Rip Through Gaines County - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/4/04

Storms Rip Through Gaines County

One of the hardest areas hit by Saturday's severe weather was Gaines County. Tornadoes were spotted, several inches of rain was reported, along with golf ball size hail.

When the storm hit Gaines County Saturday night, residents there say it came with a vengeance.

"It was a torrential down pour. It was crazy," said one resident.

Several inches of rain fell in just a few hours, flooding city streets, intersections, and county roads.

"This is what's left over from (Saturday night), the storm pulled through here (Saturday night) around 6:00 and dropped about a foot of hail. The water, we've measured seven inches, and that doesn't count Sunday, it's rained all day," said Dino Garcia, Gaines County Deputy Sheriff.

The stretch of highway that runs to El Paso was closed for four hours in both directions.

"That's why traffic was at a dead stop," said Garcia.

Dozens of county roads remain closed. Many cotton fields and farm houses are in standing water, forcing animals from their barns, and picnic tables from dry land.

"It looked like a lot of tornadoes coming. It was sucking up wind and dust, and it was only moving one or two miles an hour, practically standing still. When the hail came, I saw golf ball size, but some people reported baseball size hail, and it busted three or four car windshields," said Garcia.

It also busted right through a barn. Pounding hail bent a steel roof like taffy, but thankfully, did little damage to this area farmer's equipment.

Some 24 hours after the storm, the ice still remains. It stands about two feet high on the side of the highway, and it stretches for three miles. While the water recedes and the citizens regroup, another storm is expected to roll through Gaines County.

The Gaines County Courthouse opened as a storm shelter Saturday night for the first time in more than five years. Authorities say when the second cell hit, dozens of people flooded the courthouse.

While rain water may cover some areas of Seminole, school will continue as normal. Although, busses will run on pavement only.

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